An Angus councillor has warned she fears the introduction of Universal Credit in the area will be a “train wreck”.
SNP councillor Julie Bell believes changes to the social security system, rolled out in Dundee and Angus last week, will leave people reliant on benefits struggling to survive.
The Kirriemuir and Dean councillor said: “It can take six weeks, potentially longer, for people to get any money.
“Six weeks with not having food, not being able to heat their homes – it is a train wreck, really horrific.
“Looking at the timing for Angus, it’s right before Christmas. People are really going to struggle.
“People are going to be starting off with six week arrears for rent. It is a disaster. I would reiterate again, speak to housing and to the welfare rights team. Angus Council’s housing department have been working really hard to raise awareness.”
Ms Bell continued: “I went to the briefing for Universal Credit put on by the welfare rights team and the DWP and it was horrifying. It’s very worrying times.”
A lack of disability access at Montrose Job Centre concerns Ms Bell. “The DWP is expecting a huge rise in people with disabilities being transferred over to Universal Credit. The Montrose office isn’t accessible for people.
“Someone will turn up for an appointment at say 11 o’clock and spend 10 minutes trying to get in the door. It’s a real concern. People can’t even access the building.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have an arrangement in place leaving staff forced to welcome disabled claimants at the council’s office on High Street.
A DWP spokesman said: “We have well-established arrangements in place with Angus Council, whereby any claimant with extra accessibility needs can have their meetings with us on the ground floor of the council’s Montrose office.
“We also offer home visits or postal claims, where appropriate. Nine out of 10 claims to Universal Credit are made online and anyone who’s unable to claim online can use our free telephone service.”